Democrats’ debate about who should be the next Speaker of the House is starting to get interesting.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is still considered the favorite to be the House Speaker when the new Democratic majority is seated in January.
But it’s starting to look like a leadership challenge to Pelosi, who has been the head House Democrat since 2003, will be more serious than the one she faced after the 2016 elections.
Winning the role of Speaker of the House, which is second in the line of presidential succession after the vice president, requires the support of the majority of the House of Representatives’ 435 members. Though a handful of races remain too close to call, the Democratic majority is expected to number around 235, which means Pelosi could only afford to lose the support of 17 colleagues.
At least 17 House Democrats have signed onto a letter opposing Pelosi’s speakership bid, per HuffPost’s Matt Fuller, who notes that an additional 10 Democrats — including Reps.-elect Abigail Spanberger (VA), Jason Crow (CO), Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin (MI), and Mikie Sherrill and Andy Kim (NJ) — are also unlikely to back Pelosi, but “hesitant to sign the letter.” Most of these newly-elected Democrats, who pushed for new leadership and don’t want to break campaign promises, are in districts that rate as moderate or conservative-leaning.
Pelosi remains the highest-ranking woman in the history of U.S. government after being House Speaker from 2007 to 2011. She has faced challenges to her leadership in the party before.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) challenged Pelosi for House Minority Leader in 2016, but the California congresswoman was re-elected by a 134-63 margin.
According to Fuller, Ryan “told reporters Wednesday that he was certain Pelosi didn’t have the votes, and multiple members who support Pelosi even told HuffPost on the condition of anonymity that they believe she is in trouble.”
But to make this even more complicated, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) told The Hill “there are ongoing discussions about having a handful of Republicans supply Pelosi with votes for Speaker if she agrees to rules changes.”
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) has emerged as Pelosi’s top Democratic challenger even though she hasn’t officially declared her candidacy. The Ohio congresswoman criticized Pelosi in an interview on Thursday, calling her California colleague an elitist who hasn’t done enough for Black people during her time in Congress.
Pelosi appeared to invite a challenge from Fudge, one of the two House Democrats who hasn’t co-sponsored the Equality Act, which covers “civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” on Thursday.
@NancyPelosi on Marcia Fudge thinking about a speaker bid: "I say to everybody, come on in, the water is warm."
— Nicholas Fandos (@npfandos) November 15, 2018
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) has been the most outspoken member of the group that wants to oust Pelosi.
Congress needs a new leader. Period.
I’m hoping Marcia Fudge, my first (and arguably best) mentor in Congress will run for the next Speaker of the House. I have full faith in her ability to lead our new Congress to its fullest potential.
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) November 15, 2018
Salon’s Amanda Marcotte noted that all five Democratic congressmen who are viewed as the leaders of the Pelosi opposition — Reps. Bill Foster (IL), Ed Perlmutter (CO), Kurt Schrader (OR), Moulton, and Ryan — have voted with Trump more frequently than the California congresswoman, per FiveThirtyEight.
A recent Mother Jones study determined that Pelosi’s voting record ranked her as one of the most progressive members of the House.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who reportedly tried to shut down potential congressional regulation of Facebook, where his daughter is employed, was reportedly re-elected as Senate Minority Leader on Wednesday despite Republicans expanding their Senate majority in last week’s midterm elections.